Blake's Notes

19. Refutation of Agnostic Atheism

Today atheism is widely recognized as an untenable position.  It is simply too large of burden to provide enough evidence to defend the positive statement, “God does not exist”.  As a result of this understanding, there has been a movement within the atheist community to redefine terms in order to avoid this large burden of proof.

“Agnostic atheist” is the term self applied by many atheists today.  It refers to a person who, rather than adopting the positive view, “God does not exist” has instead chosen the apparently more modest view that they simply do not accept the claim, “God exists.”  

We know that one of the following statements is in reality true:

a) God exists.

b)God does not exist.

Although either (a) is true or (b) is true, there are three beliefs about them that a person can hold:

  1. A person can believe (a) is true and he does this by thinking (a) is more likely true than not true, i.e. he has a greater than 50% certainty of it’s truth. This position is theism.
  2. A person can believe (b) is true by thinking (b) is more likely true than not true, i.e. he has a greater than 50% certainty in its truth. This position is atheism.
  3. A person can believe (a) and (b) are equally likely, i.e. he holds them both with a 50% certainty. This position is agnosticism.

What’s interesting is that a person’s decision about any one of these options has unavoidable implications on their view of the other two points.  A person cannot reject (1) without accepting (2) and rejecting (3).

Rejection of (1) is equivalent to the acceptance of (2) and this is the relevant fact that the agnostic atheist attempts to circumnavigate.  The agnostic atheist attempts to reject (1) without fully adopting (2), thereby avoiding the responsibility of defending (2).  But if in the actual world, either (a) or (b) is true, then to reject the view that God exists is to necessarily accept the view that God does not exist. There is no in-between position available to them.  There is no refuge in agnosticism since that would mean believing theism and atheism are equally likely – and they have just rejected theism!

Four possible objections:

i.)This is a false choice.  The issue is not binary.  “God exists” and “God does not exist” are not the only options available.  

It seems reasonable to believe that a thing either exists or does not exist.  Even if God were different than we imagined – half as powerful or half as good for example – it wouldn’t be the case that he only half-exists.  Either he exists or he does not.    

 

ii.)A rejection of the evidence and the arguments for (a) does not necessarily mean you reject (a) itself.  

It’s true that you can reject (a), while still believing it might ultimately be true.  (You can reject bad arguments for true propositions).  But if you reject the current arguments and evidence for (a) then you have no reason to believe (a) – perhaps you will become an agnostic, but most who have rejected the arguments for (a) do not consider (a) and (b) equally likely.

 

iii.)What prevents me from rejecting (a) without yet forming an opinion on (b)?

If you believe that either (a) or (b) is true, and you believe (a) is false, then (b) necessarily has to be true.  

 

iv.)I am not “rejecting” the arguments of theism.  I am merely “not accepting” them.

I see no practical difference between the terms.  You reject an argument by not accepting the argument.

 

Ultimately, any self proclaimed “agnostic atheist” should ask themselves which of these two statements they honestly believe is more likely true: “God exists” or “God does not exist.”  If it’s the latter, then they must defend their belief accordingly.

 

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18. The Reliability of the Gospels

 

The Christian religion is unlike many other religions in that its foundation is not based on some ethereal truth that is found in the supernatural world.  Rather, it is based on a single event that physically happened in the past.  The resurrection is a historical event that transpired in the physical world and so it is investigable just like any other event in history.  If this historical event is found to be false, then Christianity is false.  The evidence by which we go about testing the veracity of the resurrection is found in the documents of the gospels.

Read the rest of this entry »

17. The Other Side of the Singularity

The issue I’m examining here is whether or not we can make this claim: “Prior to the Big Bang, there was nothing.”  The idea is that if there was, in fact, something that existed prior to the singularity of the Big Bang, then perhaps that thing is actually responsible for the singularity and the idea of God can be left out of the Big Bang altogether.   Read the rest of this entry »

16. Outside the Bible

Critics of the Bible claim that it is written by biased, religious zealots who are interested in promoting their religion rather than conveying truth.  To these critics, verses like 2 Timothy 3:16 which confirm the reliability of scripture are the equivalent of an individual making an audacious claim and then assuring you that they can be trusted.  According to these critics, if we really want to know the truth, we should look outside the Bible for more balanced sources as to the truth of history. Read the rest of this entry »

15. God and Black Holes

If God exists, could we discover him like we discover any other object in our universe?  Could scientists analyze the data and physicists proffer theories that would make his existence known like any other object such as black holes, quasars or planets?

If God exists, he is different than a black hole in that he is a person.  A person has consciousness and will and they behave in intentional ways that are unlike the way that nonliving matter behaves.  A person’s behavior is less predictable. Read the rest of this entry »

14. The DNA Enigma

i.  The Biology

“The problem of the origin of life is clearly basically the equivalent to the problem of the origin of biological information.” – Bernd-Olaf Kuppers Read the rest of this entry »

13. The Anthropic Principle

The Teleological Argument is the argument that the universe is fine-tuned for life and therefore appears to be designed for life.  One objection to the Teleological Argument is what is known as the Anthropic Principle.  The Anthropic Principle is the idea that it should be no surprise that we find ourselves in a life-permitting universe since if the universe were life-prohibiting, we wouldn’t be here to notice.  But this principle involves a logical fallacy. Read the rest of this entry »

12. Genetic Fallacy

A common argument against Christians is that their beliefs are the product of their culture.  If they had been born in India, it is said, they would have been Hindu rather than Christian.  While this is possible, it does nothing to assess the truth or falsity of Christianity itself.  Attacking a belief based on the origin of that belief commits what is known as the Genetic Fallacy which is when the origin of an argument is attacked rather than the argument itself.  Here is an example:

“You only believe the Sun is the center of the solar system because you were raised in a society that believes that.  Had you grown up in ancient Greece, you’d believe that the Earth was the center of the solar system.”

While it is true that I may hold my belief in a heliocentric solar system because of the society in which I was raised, it doesn’t change the fact that the Sun is, in fact, the center of the solar system. Read the rest of this entry »

11. Natural Evil

To my mind, the moral problem of evil has been solved.  The moral problem of evil is the question: if God is all-good and all-powerful, then why does evil like the Holocaust occur?  This is a question that has plagued many people throughout time.  The common answer is: “God wanted to create free creatures so that they could genuinely love him and to do this, he had to allow them free will which could be used to do evil as well.”  For many years, the idea of an all-powerful entity that “had” to allow something just didn’t make sense to me.  Then I came across this passage in C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain: “If you choose to say ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it’, you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words ‘God can’.”  God could not force the free choice to love him any more than he could create a round square.  Some things are impossible not because of any lack of power but because they are just logically incoherent combinations of words.  And so the moral problem of evil is no problem at all, when you consider the freedom we’ve been endowed with and how this freedom can be used to do evil.  What I would like to look at in this essay is the more difficult problem: the natural problem of evil.  The natural problem of evil concerns the question: if God is all-powerful and all-good, why does he allow natural disasters like tsunamis and famines that cause such horrible misery to these creatures that he created and loves? Read the rest of this entry »

10. Superstition

Many people are raised on a Christianity that involves praying to various saints, worshipping religious artifacts and asking for forgiveness from God through another person.  Questioning and doubt are discouraged.  They are taught that science is generally the enemy of religion.  Their Christian growth is stunted and they foist their own ideas of what they think God should be onto him.  Their god comes to be an idol that ceases to resemble the true God.

These Christians many times find themselves immersed in a science culture – maybe on a university campus – and they become dogmatic empiricists.  They decide that they have matured out of the superstitions of their youth and now operate their belief system based on the rigorous scientific method: “something is not true until you can prove it empirically”; “seeing is believing.”  This seems like a noble operating philosophy which is vaguely associated with things like enlightenment and reason, while religion is simultaneously associated with something like voodoo, myth and all the new age beliefs which are so easy to ridicule.  The way that science observes everything from on high and then judges objectively, appeals to you. Read the rest of this entry »